New Democracy Says Without Kotzias, Greek Foreign Ministry Adrift

Αssociated press

FILE - Greece's Prime Minister and newly Foreign Minister Alexis Tsipras, right, shakes hands with outgoing Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias during a ceremony in Athens, Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018. (AP Photo/Yorgos Karahalis)

ATHENS – The resignation of Nikos Kotzias as Foreign Minister – replaced by Prime Minister and Radical Left SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras – has left the agency rudderless and unable to cope with a raft of issues outside the country, New Democracy lawmaker Vasilis Kikilias said.

Kotzias, who had been a close aide to Tsipras, quit in a huff when the Premier backed Defense Minister Panos Kammenos, who had objected to the deal that Kotzias – with Tsipras' consent – made to rename the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia (FYROM) and give away the name of an abutting ancient Greek province.

Tsipras, needing the seven votes of his junior coalition partner Kammenos' pro-austerity, marginal, jingoistic Independent Greeks (ANEL) to have a three-vote majority in Parliament, jettisoned Kotzias and has allowed the defense chief to be opposed to the FYROM deal and defy him openly as Kammenos then votes for SYRIZA positions after barking.

Noting growing tensions with Albania, where the government there authorized the confiscation of properties belonging to ethnic Greeks, Kikilias said that showed Tsipras is too distracted by domestic problems to deal with foreign issues.

Speaking to Open TV, Kikilias said, "Today the government is lodging demarches but the foreign ministry is effectively leaderless. Everyday, issues arise in our region and the country needs a (foreign) minister of exclusive occupation, able to intervene immediately and to press international organisations and to exercise an effective foreign policy. Mr. Tsipras does not have time to deal with this and without a foreign minister our foreign policy is nonexistent," Kikilias said.

The Prime Minister also has not spoken out about growing provocations by Turkey in the Aegean and around Cyprus and as other foreign policy issues are arising, concentrating instead on feuding with New Democracy over his reneging on anti-austerity issues and over an economy he insisted is recovering, blaming the Conservatives for their policies while in power previously.